Everyday vs Hobby

A while ago someone online posted a thought that I have kept in my file because I liked it then—and I still like it, although my apologies to the writer, whose name I don’t have:

“…sheer hedonistic criticism may be the best that the critic has to offer, but in the hierarchy of value, it may offer the least information to the recipient.”

In order to understand and agree with the above quote, you have to first understand and agree that when a critic assigns scores to wine it is not an objective activity—it is hedonistic.

This lead in is to point you to yet another lengthy thread on a wine-oriented bulletin board concerning rating wines with points. There is a link to that thread at the bottom of this post.

~I think that lengthy arguments take place on wine oriented Web bulletin boards mainly because of a difference between those who treat wine as a hobby and those who treat wine as a daily food.
~The way hobbyists act sometimes leaves me wondering whether a hobby is more of a compulsion than it is an enjoyment. They do become obsessive!
~Wine hobbyists seem to be on a quest for the best; a lofty goal indeed, but likely a fruitless one (pun intended). You can know if you’ve had the best wine only after you’ve had them all.
~Most wine hobbyists probably already know the limitation they face, maybe that’s why many seem interested in only the perceived top wines.
~The problem of course is that to chase after the perceived top wines means that you have already determined what is the best. Now, how do many hobbyists get that information? Quite often, the critics proclaim and the hobbyists go chasing after the wine.
~It’s ok with me how people want to view wine. My only real concern is this: if a wine that I like pairs perfectly with my meal, will it pair less well with my meal after not having won critical acclaim or an award in a competition?
~I am of course being cynical, but I do think the chasm between us daily wine drinkers and the wine hobbyists is fairly wide and it may be that the gap will never be closed. I know that I am tired of the argument. I may not understand the motivations of the hobbyist, but it isn’t my place to change them.
~Yet, the wine hobbyist and I share common ground—like most of them, I, too, appreciate great wine. I enjoy a discussion over (and tasting of) great wine when I can buy them or better yet, get them for free.
~Still, while wine is a daily necessity, great wines are not.
~The only necessary wine is the one that pairs well with both my dinner and my budget, and lucky me, thousands of affordable wines that can do quite nicely with a variety of meals are at my disposal.
~Hobby or no, I wonder if it is at all possible that those who need to know what someone else thinks of a wine may suffer from a basic insecurity?
~The last time I posed that question to a wine hobbyist, before he tried to give me a black eye, he said that he uses the scores of critics so that he can be better informed when he buys wine.
~Silly me, I’ve always thought that being better informed meant finding out for yourself. With wine, what more pleasant way is there to do that than to taste?
~Some hobbyists who do taste wine have an annoying habit of telling others what to like. I used to do that, but I don’t any longer. Unless I have a particular motive, why should I care who agrees or disagrees with what I like or don’t like? (I suspect some wine people believe that they have impeccable taste and they want to make sure others know it, but that’s a separate issue.)
~I want to make a proposal to all those who post on wine oriented bulletin boards. The next time you feel the need to tell me what’s good—don’t. You do that and I will stop being sarcastic when you drone on about the latest 95-point wine that I can’t afford.

Have you noticed that this time I’ve avoided talking about another class of wine person: the collector or investor? I think the words “collector” and “investor” say all that is needed on that subject, and I can’t afford those wines either…

Points:

Copyright, Thomas Pellechia
July, 2007. All Rights Reserved.

5 Responses to “Everyday vs Hobby”

  1. winophite says:

    While I agree with you relating to the wine critics ratings of their “great wines”, I do try to find wines mentioned as being good on the wine forum I freqent. While most are hard to find having been cellared for years and now unavailable, I have found and enjoyed a few recommended. How can an inexperienced person choose from the thousands of bottles…if not on a recommendation? Forty bucks is a lot to spend on a crap shoot, 20 is more in my upper range, but finding a recommended 8 buck bottle that I like is the best. Getting to know recs, from the same source and identifying similar likes seems to be a good idea to me. I don’t listen to the rating people or give much credit to the “gold medal” winners, but the few posters I’ve gotten “to know” who post regularly have gained my following. Your opinions are as well in my respect catagory. I’d find recs from you interesting and worthy of a taste as well, (I realise you don’t go there though).
    By the way, I’d like to know more about these medal winning games and how much they are worth if you are ever struggling for a topic. Thanks for keeping up the blog! WP

  2. Thomas says:

    Winophite,

    My interest is not in telling people what I like, it is in providing information about wine and its industry. When I do recommend I prefer making general recommendations (regions, varietals, etc., and usually with food) over specific product recommendations, to remove any doubt over my allegience.

    I have no problem with the fact that consumers share what they discover with one another. In fact, I encourage sharing discoveries as part of the wine experience; I do it too. Plus, consumers have no financial interest in making recommendations–they are neither in the wine business nor do they sell their opinions. That seems like a fairly unbiased group, although any recommendation remains subjective.

    Another way for a consumer to explore specific wines is to attend as many tastings as come your way. The more tastings you attend and sign up for, the more invitations to attend you will begin to receive–now there’s a bonus if ever there was one…

    I may have a past post on medals and competitions early in the blog’s life, but I can–and will–revisit the subject. Have you specific questions?

  3. winophite says:

    I just seem to notice that nearly every winery boasts gold, silver, double gold etc… seems everyone has their winner. I wonder who gives these awards, is there any one group that is known for judging or do wine reps “pick” the judges they want. I know marketing is marketing, but what’s in a medal if everyone has one? Thanks, WP

  4. Thomas says:

    Winophite,

    I agree with you–there is such a thing as “medal creep” as sure as there is such a thing as “score inflation.”

    I’ll touch on the subject in my next blog post.